Police investigate racist Euro 2012 tweets

Ashley Cole and Ashley Young of England look dejected after defeat during the UEFA EURO 2012 quarter final match between England and Italy Ashley Cole and Ashley Young were singled out for abuse, it is alleged

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Police have launched an investigation into allegations of online racist abuse during England's Euro 2012 quarter-final defeat on Sunday.

It is alleged black players Ashley Cole and Ashley Young were singled out by a Twitter user after they missed penalties against Italy.

The Football Association has called the attacks "appalling and unacceptable".

Police said they were examining possible offences under the Public Order Act.

In one post the tweeter wrote: "All I got to say is this was just a joke, you guys need to relax, police know i was kiddin around and they won't bother me hopefully, cheers."

A reply from the West Midlands Police account said: "Wrong. Your comments may constitute a public order offence. We have advised complainants how to officially report this to police."

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said on Monday: "We are aware of alleged racist comments on Twitter following last night's England game and have launched an investigation.

'Clear rules'

"The allegation was made by a member of the public relating to comments on a Twitter account supposedly based in London.

"The Metropolitan Police Service is examining possible offences under Section 18/19 Public Order Act 1986."

No arrests have been made.

An FA spokesman said: "We are concerned at the reports regarding allegations of abuse aimed at England players Ashley Cole and Ashley Young on Twitter.

"They have just given everything for the national team at Euro 2012 and it is appalling and unacceptable that messages of an abusive type are being posted.

"We support any police investigation in identifying who is behind this."

A Twitter spokesman said: "We have clear rules that govern behaviour on Twitter and will look into any reports of those rules being violated."

There are limited circumstances in which users' content is censored, he added.

These include illegal activities and direct, specific threats of violence against others.

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